Seth Meyers already had his dream job — as the host of Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, “I sort of had already accomplished the job I never thought I would accomplish,” he tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. He joined the cast in 2001 and was there for 12 years. But in one of the recent rounds of musical chairs/desks in the late night talk show scene, Meyers landed Late Night. Lorne Michaels, executive producer of Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show and Late Night, encouraged Meyers to host the soon-to-be-vacated 12:30 a.m. spot and make it his own. Meyers took it over when Jimmy Fallon moved to The Tonight Show. “My biggest fear with any job coming after SNL was that the next job would be boring compared to SNL,” Meyers says. “So when this came up I was thrilled at the idea that it would be something that would move as fast as SNL, as well as being in the same building, so I didn’t have to get a new ID photo.” MORE
MAGNET: Then Fred Armisen and The 8G Band launch into the show’s opening nouveau New Wave-esque theme song over a jittery montage of Manhattan twinkling after dark — taxi cabs! neon signs! people on sidewalks! — as the announcer blurts out tonight’s guests in that stereotypical stentorian talk show announcer cadence before introducing the man of the hour, smart aleck-y fallen preppie, looks-like-the-guy-who-took-your-sister-to-the-prom Seth Meyers who makes his entrance to the deafening cheers of APPLAUSE-sign-triggered Midwestern tourist adulation.
The first thing you notice about Seth Meyers — in person and stripped of SNL’s Weekend Update desk — is that he has wider hips and thicker thighs than you would expect from a man so petite from the waist up. This indisputable anatomical fact is accentuated by a fitted, slim-cut, two-button, two-piece charcoal suit. As per the unshakeable dictates of talk show orthodoxy, he monologues, somewhat mirthlessly it should be noted, on the newsmakers of the nano-moment: Putin, Blackberry, Beyonce. Then he tosses it over to Fred and The 8G Band who launch into one of those strummy, cymbals-sizzling interstitial rave-ups that mark every transition in the stations of the talk show cross as Meyers takes a seat behind the desk.
At this point in the show Seth and Fred do a recurring sketch called Fred Talks, their take on the obligatory talk show host/band leader banter — you know, Johnny to Doc, Dave to Paul, Jimmy to Questlove — which invariably involves an incredulous Seth calling bullshit on some ludicrous claim that he’s allegedly overheard Fred making backstage. Seth informs Fred that he’s done some asking around and some Googling and it turns out the following things that Fred has told him all week during this segment are patently false: Fred did NOT open a theme park in Arizona called Clayland, nor did he invent a ‘hot new dessert’ called Water Indulgence, i.e. a bowl of water, nor did he open a new spa that is basically a miniaturized version of the suburbs of Chicago, which is somehow ‘very calming’ and restorative. Fred just smiles serenely, untroubled by this intrusion of fact-based, objective reality — as if to say he’s used to it, he gets this all the time — because, after all, he is the hard-earned beneficiary of the New Normal in show biz, which is this: When all good 40something indie-rockers die, they go to Late Night Talk Show Band Heaven. DEVELOPING